Coping with Flying

Coping with flying

Many people with paruresis are very nervous about making plane journeys, particularly long haul flights. Nevertheless, it is possible to fly in comfort with some forward planning and some understanding of your anxiety triggers. You might it useful to read through Coping with AP.

Here are some strategies for coping with toilets on a plane:

When you check in, ask for an aisle seat. That way you can get up without disturbing anyone. If there is a difficulty, say you have a medical condition that means you use the loo frequently, and you don't want to keep on disturbing other people.

There is always a rush after the seatbelt light goes off, and again shortly before landing, so avoid the rush.

When people settle down for a film, and during the sleeping period, things go quiet: a good time to go.

Long flights mean large planes; which means 2 to 4 toilets in a block. Your negative thought about "they know I'm in here and are wondering why I'm taking so long" is not true. Contradict the thought by saying "even with a queue, no-one remembers who went in which and when".

When you walk along the aisle and people look up at you, your negative thought is "they know I'm going to the toilet (and they are setting a stop-watch!)". This is not true; people get so bored staring at the same thing for hours on end, that any movement of any sort causes them to look up. They may even assess the clothes you are wearing, but once you have passed by, you are out of their thoughts altogether.

When you walk along the aisle, defocus, and do not look at people's faces. Similarly when you come out of the toilet.

When you are in the toilet, it is yours for as long as you need it; and if someone is constipated, that can be for a very long time. No-one knows or cares what you are doing in there, so say to yourself "they are busy eating, reading, watching a film, and sleeping."

If you misfire, you can go again a bit later, with no need to explain or justify. On a plane I seem to go about every two hours - it's no problem. People often get up to stretch their legs, and going to the loo passes the time!

Check out the toilet early on when you don't need a pee. That way you get over the novelty before you need to use it in earnest. Deliberately stay in there two minutes. Before leaving, compose yourself and set your face into a slight smile. That way you when you come out, you will experience any reaction; which will be zilch. Again do not look at people's faces: instead defocus.

And drink plenty, but not coffee or alcohol; its easy to dehydrate on a long-distance flight, and peeing is easier when you have a good urge.

But if it is causing you anxiety in anticipation, it may be worth getting used to a catheter now, because after all you want to enjoy the holiday. Just having a catheter in your pocket and knowing that with it you can reliably empty your bladder, could reduce your anxiety enough to let you pee without using it. You can go to your GP and say you get "urinary retention" uncontrollably; as you are going on a flight, you wish to be able to use a catheter in an emergency. The surgery staff will show you how to use it. You can come back to us for further advice on this.
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